Negotiations after the Russian withdrawal and the Ukrainian offensive now seem more likely, especially since in addition to the US siloviki such as Chief of Staff Milley and CIA chief Burns, parts of the US civil administration also appear more and more inclined to the matter, while Big Ben Hodges and Anne Applebaum together with Ukrainians and Eastern Europeans now see the time to conquer the rest of Ukraine, thereby overthrowing Putin and getting a non-imperial Russia that is a democratic nation-state and not a Russian Federation, even to the point of losing Kadyrov-Chechnya and other territories – in the unspoken hope that there will be no Caliphate of the Caucasus. The former military adviser to Merkel, General Vad, sees Big Ben Hodge’s prophecies more under Rommel’s star and by ignoring the military and political results:
“As I said: Ben Hodges thinks like Rommel. That makes him a bit likeable to me and good generals have to tick like that and not like Erich Vad :)). Rommel went ashore in North Africa and attacked the British off the bat and far inferior against all rules and expectations, was initially very successful and ended up on the losing side, as is well known. And many German generals also believed that with the Ardennes offensive at the end of 1944 in connection with the V-weapons and the foreseeable end of the coalition of the western powers with the SU, everything could be turned militarily… what Ben doesn’t see is that the Russians don’t for strategic reasons can/may go out of Donbass and Crimea. They would lose their world power status and it would be the beginning of their end. That is why it was right in 2008 not to admit Ukraine into NATO. We would have had an invasion even then. I was there when Merkel pushed this through. One way to explain it to Ben might be: what if the US allowed Mexico and Canada to join Putin’s Eurasian Union and station troops in Cuba, or organize naval maneuvers involving China in the Gulf of Mexico…..or China of Taiwan independence or Turkey would agree to a free and democratic Kurdistan or Israel would accept the sovereignty of Gaza and the West Bank……..and then add that RUS would surely use Nucs before stepping off the world stage……”
Now the question is whether this is realistic in the near future. General Vad says that the Russians intended several things with the withdrawal from Kherson: a new demarcation line with the Djnepro, logistical renunciation of a possible offensive south towards Odessa and a time pause to regain strength and through negotiations no loss of Putin’s own position of power, yes maybe even getting some sort of symbolic success if the rest of the Donbass and Crimea remain Russian. Otherwise a new Cuban crisis would have to be expected, since Putin then feels cornered like a rat. The Eastern Europeans, parts of the US administration and Zelensky-Ukraine do not want to believe that, nor do they want to believe in the Cuba crisis theory after inflationary unfulfilled threats of nuclear war by Putin, since, according to Vad, they Ukrainians on the other sid do not have air superiority to form a bridgehead, which can then be reached with assault boats, bridge-laying tanks and pontoon bridges and conquers the rest of the Donbass. ,but Selensky-Ukraine may consider moving further, although this is not possible via the Djenpro, at best via the north, where there is said to be a Wagner line, but this is also not very likely, but Big Ben Hodges, on the other hand, thinks Ukraine can by 2023 be liberated from Russians, including Crimea. Ralph Thiele from Dr. Seidts PMG, on the other hand, believes that the Ukrainians are now running out of young men and personnel, and that the destruction of the infrastructure would mean that the Ukrainians would no longer have the same fighting strength despite arms deliveries and Western support, and that the Russians might be able to use reinforcements, further bombing of the infrastructures which could make the rest of Ukraine war-weary and defensive over the winter, especially since they would expand their defense lines along the Djnepro and make them virtually impregnable.
The question remains whether the Russians are really capable of a „roller“ that then rolls back the Ukrainians after recovery, especially since this could be the next fiasco even if this were to succeed, even if Kherson was retaken and become thehoped for bridgehead to Odessa again. Therefore, the question may arise as to whether a ceasefire and negotiations will not be reached, which will also give the Ukrainians a recovery phase and arm them militarily in such a way that a northern operation to Kherson, an offensive via Belarus by the Russian side , can be fundamentally prevented. But the reactions of Biden and NATO, and even Poland, to Selensky’s claim that the missile on Poland was of Russian origin shows that this is a proxy war and that they do not want to be drawn into an escalation and are perhaps even in favor of a cease fire, maybe also for negotiations. But it’s also important to note that the Ukrainians themselves need a break if they hope to go further. It’s not just the Russians who are weakened and bleeding out. The question will be during negotiations: Do you accept a partial victory for Putin or do you stick to the liberation of all of Ukraine, the restoration of territorial integrity and international law and perhaps want Putin’s overthrow and a post-imperial Russia without Putin and the Russian Federation. At best, there will now be a ceasefire.